Dancing in the Shadows by Laura Bryannan

Chapter 13


All abuse survivors come away from these childhood experiences with various levels of fear, loathing and confusion toward their bodies. For many women, the way to stay sane was to remove awareness from their bodies up into their minds or even higher into their soul energies. As adults, the success of this strategy begins to wear thin, as one realizes one is disconnected from life, love and physical-level enjoyment. Existing as one of the "living dead" may seem to have its merits: if you can't feel, you can't be hurt. However, if you can't feel, you take no joy out of what you create, no pleasure in the giving and receiving of love, and you have no hope of reaching your heart's desire because you have no way of knowing what it might be or recognizing it if you found it.

Survivors of any physical trauma can begin to apply gentle strategies to help reconnect the soul and mind with the heart and body so that the energies can flow freely back and forth in a more integrated way. Once seen as a betrayer or enemy, we can teach ourselves to experience the body as it was truly meant to be: the glorious vehicle of our higher energies, able to express love and compassion in a way that is tangible and real. Here are some exercises to help you connect with your body in a more positive way:


Quite often, the reason survivors avoid placing their awareness in their bodies is due to the uncomfortable feelings they discover in there when they try to do so. Setting up a permanent means to release negative energy and stabilize the body's energies can make life with your body much easier to take.

Women in our culture have been helped to forget that the natural shape of a woman is bounteous of hip, thigh and bottom. If you look at any happening or hot movie made before 1965 you'll see how drastically the images of beauty have changed. The sexy women in those movies had round hips and thighs! If you've looked at any of these films, or at pictures of movie stars such as Marilyn Monroe or Ann-Margaret and thought to yourself, "Boy, is she fat," you know you've gone into agreement with today's false standards which state that women should really look like boys, not women. Let's all let go of the idea that the only good butt is a little one. Dancing is really much more fun when you've got a good booty to shake, strong thighs to shimmy, a round belly to undulate, and feet firmly planted on the ground.

Sensing and Safety

One way to help relax the body and teach it to trust is to show it some of the resources it has at its disposal. This exercise can help us learn to let go and trust another person, as well as show us how aware we really are. Women are often surprised to experience how finely-tuned their body's antennae can be. In fact, survivors are often extremely psychic--when it becomes a matter of survival to be able to read the vibes of the household or one's abuser, the soul will develop these skills pronto. It is hoped this exercise will help you experience your body's ability to accurately know what's going on out in the world.


Raindrops on Roses...

Some sexual abuse survivors actually have a healthy relationship with their bodies. However, many survivors need to make treating their bodies lovingly into a discipline complete with schedules and timetables. Feeling more at home with your body can take some practice; this is where the idea "fake it till you make it" can come into play. That is, the more you're able to be nice to your body, the more you'll come to see it as deserving of nice treatment. If this means having to schedule a decadent bubble bath in a candle-filled bathroom every evening, do it.

Bodies like lovely smells, beautiful things to look at, arousing things to listen to, comfy things to feel, yummy things to taste, and fun things to do. Have it be part of your group's process to do at least one nice thing for their bodies each day. Tell them to jot what they do in their notebooks, as well as anything that comes up for them around it (especially if they couldn't do it).

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Last Updated: 1 feb 99
Laura Bryannan